Caregiver Burnout happens when the demands of caregiving for a spouse or family member who is elderly, chronically ill or suffering from dementia becomes overwhelming. Sometimes this full-time job is thrust upon the caregiver suddenly. And with no preparation for this unique job description, the health of the caregiver can also be at risk. Even though often it’s a labor of love, caregiver burnout is a common “occupational” hazard.
Besides the usual chores of daily living such as grocery shopping, cooking, house cleaning and paying the bills, some caregivers are also working outside the home, causing even more caregiver stress. Caregiver stress is a result of the physical and emotional strain that builds over time. The emotions associated with this type of stress can be a mix of guilt, frustration and anger, confusion, anxiety, irritability and depression. Lack of sleep, not eating well and a feeling of isolation intensify these emotions. And all of this stress can add up to feeling “burned out.”
Here are some ways to avoid caregiver burnout:
- Take a break – Giving yourself “time off” is a basic necessity for your emotional, physical, mental and spiritual health. Whether it’s a few hours during the day or a few weeks of respite care, there are friends, family, agencies and facilities that can temporarily relieve you of being on duty around the clock. Ask for help.
- Stay healthy – Taking care of your own needs is vital to sustaining the marathon of long-term caregiving at home. By eating well and exercising regularly, you will keep strong and sleep better for the special demands of caregiving.
- Take control – Taking control can be as simple as knowing your limits. Explore the available resources for caregivers to help with financial burdens and supplemental caregiving. Ask a friend or family member to help in your search. Having realistic expectations for yourself is an enormous step toward dealing effectively with feeling helpless and overwhelmed.
- Talk with a therapist – Talking with a caring professional can go a long way to help you sort through the roller coaster of emotions of being a caregiver. An experienced therapist can also coach you on self-care with counseling on proper eating, sleeping and social habits to help with feelings of depression, fatigue and isolation.
Montville Counseling Center is experienced in helping caregivers cope with caregiver burnout. Call us today at (973)-331-0043 and feel more in control of your life.